Saturday, August 27, 2011

Dive 187 - White Star Quarry

For Dive 187, Keith and I went to White Star Quarry in Ohio.

Benefits of the quarry over Union Lake include greater depth and much clearer water with attendant improvements in visibility.

Another benefit was that there was even a cell phone if you had to make a call:

Unfortunately the reception was pretty lousy.

White Star is run basically on the honor system: you put $15 in an envelope and put it in the payment tube and keep a tear-off receipt from the envelope to be placed on the window of your car. The system works well, and there's random checks from the park rangers to make sure people paid their entry fee. So we paid our fees, filled out the paperwork and off we went.

Its quite a nice quarry and the water was warm, 77 degrees at the surface and 59 degrees at depth.

There's the usual stuff in White Star, a sunken sailboat, fish, some trees and other things, but the main attraction is the subterranean tunnel between the old rock crusher and the block house.

This photo shows the stairwell leading down in the crusher:

Ending at around 73 feet deep at the crusher and rising up to 38 feet, this square concrete tunnel is pitch black inside, requiring lights, a redundant air supply (in our case double tanks with manifold and two regulators), and some training to travel through. It is rather large, easily fitting two divers swimming wing-on-wing without either diver touching the walls, ceiling or floor which is helpful in preventing the tunnel from being silted out and losing all vision inside it.

Here's what it looked like:

As you can see, it was dark in the tunnel, with no outside illumination until you reached near the end.

Overhead environments underwater are no place to go unless you have the training, breathing gas supply, and redundant light sources to handle that kind of environment. After all, if something goes wrong, you can't just make a bolt for the surface (which you really shouldn't do even if you are in an non-overhead underwater), you need to solve the problem right where you are.

When you see one light make a circle with the other light making a circle in reply, that was an underwater question "Are you OK?", with the prompt response "I'm OK". Lights can be for communication as well as illumination.

The tunnel was pretty cool and good training in an overhead environment, and we spent a full 60 minutes underwater exploring the quarry after we did the tunnel.

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